The Tao of Writing

According to legends, Laozi leaves China on hi...
According to legends, Laozi leaves China on his water buffalo. Renard, (2002), p. 16 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A personal confession. I love the Tao te Ching, by Lao Tzu. It isn’t just about the abstract ‘life’, it is about life. As in learning, walking, martial arts, music, and writing. Yes, writing. Here are four examples of what I am talking about, pulled nearly at random.

  1. Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”

    One interpretation: Do you have the patience to wait to write until the clutter of your thoughts settle and your mind is clear?

    Another interpretation: Do you have the patience to not write a project until the ideas settle and the story and characters are clear?

  2. The wise man is one who, knows, what he does not know.”

    One interpretation: Your knowledge of personal and technical strengths and weaknesses comes partly from yourself but also partly from the feedback from others. Even then, it is incomplete.

    Another interpretation: apply this to research

  3. He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty”

    One interpretation: A good writer tries to write better than other writers, a great writer tries to write better than herself.

    Another interpretation:

  4. When people see some things as beautiful,

    other things become ugly.

    When people see some things as good,

    other things become bad.”

    One interpretation: Writers create protagonists and antagonists. The writer guides the reader in the perceptions of good and bad in people.

    Another interpretation: Writers write about values – what is beautiful, what is ugly. Some writers like to make the to make the boundary clear, others choose to blur the line. We have a responsibility to think about the messages we send because we send these messages to readers.

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